As the ancient saying goes in its various ways and manners, “behind every great man stands an equally powerful woman.” Such is true in wrestling where the social rules don’t get much more modern than old proverbs. Although there are numerous exceptions of ladies who have blazed their own trail without having been seen on the arm of a top guy, many women in the business have based their entire careers simply on whomever they chose to date (privately or publicly) at the time. Conversely, many men wouldn’t have had their careers shoot as high as they did without the addition of a beautiful valet or a strong-willed female manager to guide them to success. Then there are the couples who, as a team, become a force to be reckoned with. These are the couples who fans instantly identify as an item, and these couples more than likely couldn’t reach the levels they’ve achieved without their specific significant other.
There have been numerous under-the-radar wrestling relationships that have worked out perfectly. Men and women who travel the long roads together find themselves in love and even starting families. That’s the good side of a wrestling relationship that works out positively. The great side is if the couple gets popular with the fans and finds themselves as role models and exemplars for the Perfect Modern Relationship where the woman has confidence in her own identity and the man has it all – a great look, a great position in his career, and a lady at his side who’s as sharp as a tack. This type of relationship, often referred to by society as the “Power Couple,” is perfect for wrestling. There have been examples throughout the years in the business where a couple who appeared to have everything really did have it all.
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15 Steve Austin and Lady Blossom
Before their WCW days as gimmicked up aristocrats, Jeanie “Lady Blossom” Clarke and “Stunning” Steve Austin (in his pre-“Stone Cold” days) were involved romantically during their tenure in the Texas territories. Clarke, originally from England, traveled to the US with her then-boyfriend, late English wrestler “Gentleman” Chris Adams. Clarke and Adams broke up in the early 1980s, and in 1989 Adams would become involved with Austin. The three were top names in Texas’s World Class Championship Wrestling in the early 1990s as Austin and Adams utilized Clarke as the catalyst in a memorable feud (along with Adams’s valet and real-life wife Toni) that lasted until Austin gained WCW’s attention and joined the company in 1991. It was Dusty Rhodes who noticed Clarke’s remarkable look (an inspiration to the numerous models WCW would hire in the late 90s) and put her on WCW programming as her then-husband’s valet as “Lady Blossom” at a time where many valets other than Elizabeth and Sherri had no names. Thanks to their wild time as the king and queen of Texas’s WCCW, Austin and his former wife Jeanie Clark got noticed on a grander stage in Atlanta.
14 Billy Wolfe and Mildred Burke
One of the very first relationships in wrestling that can be identified as a power couple involves a longtime World Women’s Champion and her husband, a successful National Wrestling Alliance promoter. In the late 1930s, Mildred Burke impressed Billy Wolfe so much with her prowess in the wrestling ring against men that he agreed to train her after initial hesitation. Their relationship, which led to marriage and a Women’s Championship reign for Burke, would be a stormy one. Wolfe, known for largely promoting female wrestlers along with his champion wife, earned a reputation on the road as a womanizer. Burke would divorce her husband on these grounds, and the result was a messy situation that led to Wolfe’s attempt to stifle his ex-wife’s endeavors to find work in wrestling, a cruel blow to such a popular lady wrestler and longtime champion. Burke eventually retired in 1956 and Wolfe continued to successfully promote women’s wrestling until his death in 1964.
13 Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt
This real-life couple got involved in one of the first of many infamous wrestling love triangles. The Universal Wrestling Federation’s feud involving Missy Hyatt, “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, and “Hollywood” John Tatum would create one of the most groundbreaking storylines for its time, leading Hyatt and Gilbert to become two of the top names in the southern territorial circuit. The couple married in 1988 after a kayfabe breakup between Hyatt and Tatum stemmed from a real-life breakup – Missy had already left John for Eddie while the storyline played out on television. As a result, when the UWF was purchased by Jim Crockett’s NWA, Eddie and Missy were key players in the federation’s transition. By leaving Tatum for Gilbert, Missy found herself in a comfortable role as an increasingly popular jewel at the side of a rising star. The couple found success in the NWA (later WCW) as Missy went on to manage Gilbert and the Steiner Brothers, together known as “Hot Stuff Incorporated.”
12 Tommy Dreamer and Beulah McGillicutty
It’s interesting to see how the excessive violence and over-the-top sexuality of the original ECW still carried a complexity and certain quality to its storylines, and a big part of that depth came from the promotion’s first and best known couple. Beulah’s kayfabe history as an ugly duckling with a teenage crush on Dreamer who grew up into a sexy swan then went under Raven’s spell was memorable for its innovative treatment of the usual “the woman gets involved” method when using valets in wrestling. This style of storytelling, along with Dreamer & Beulah’s willingness to throw themselves so physically into the characters Paul Heyman created for them, led to their positions as ECW’s “spokespeople” so to speak, the couple with boy-and-girl-next-door looks transforming into hardcore icons on weekends.
11 Matt Hardy and Lita
At around the same time Tommy & Beulah were becoming hardcore wrestling’s power couple, a daredevil item also working the wrestling independent scene in various promotions were poised to take their places as extreme wrestling’s force to be reckoned with. At the turn of the 21st century, as the WWE looked to expand past heavyweights into high flyers, Matt Hardy and Lita were the internet's “it” couple during the Attitude Era. Fans were thrilled by the in-ring stunts and acrobatics of Team Xtreme, and their popularity came at a time when online scrutiny of wrestlers and their personal relationships was in its nascent stages. People wanted to know all they could about this daring duo, photographing them in candid shots and gossiping on news forums about wedding rumors. It’s arguable that Matt and Lita were a more popular package than Matt and his brother/tag team partner Jeff at one point in time. Despite the infamous nightmare ending to their fairytale wrestling romance, it’s undeniable that Matt and Lita definitely held the fans in the palms of their hands during the WWE’s most extreme period.
10 Jeff and Karen Jarrett
If Jeff Jarrett could have his way and his GFW promotion turns out to be a success, maybe he and Karen could move up a couple of places on the list as a power couple. In the meantime, before Dixie Carter became a regular mainstay on TNA television, there was Mrs. Jarrett, at the time still Mrs. Angle, angering fans and proclaiming herself “Queen” of TNA. After Karen’s 2008 divorce and her return to TNA in 2011 as Jeff Jarrett’s wife (kayfabe and in real life), the couple was involved in one of the company’s most memorable feuds with Kurt Angle, even culminating in one of wrestling’s time-honored traditions – a wedding ceremony that ended in chaos after Karen’s ex-husband destroyed the ceremony on camera. Karen Jarrett is definitely memorable for her history with TNA’s top stars and Jeff Jarrett’s involvement in her creation as a wrestling character can’t be forgotten either.
9 Diamond Dallas Page and Kimberly Page
At a time in wrestling where long term relationships were submitting to various drug problems or infidelities, Page and Kim Falkenburg (better known as DDP and Kimberly) were a breath of fresh air. In 1994, Page was returning from injury to WCW television and his wife Kimberly was introduced as the Diamond Doll. The similarities to the Falkenburgs’s characters and that of Randy Savage and Elizabeth, who were by then divorced, were noticeable. Page’s feuds throughout mid-90s WCW with Dave Sullivan, Johnny B. Badd (better known as Marc Mero), and Brutus Beefcake over Kimberly’s “freedom” evoked feelings of the good old days, a decade before in the WWE when wrestlers tried to woo Elizabeth away from Savage. In fact, it would be the New World Order era Savage and Elizabeth who would call Page and Kimberly out in a worked shoot that the Falkenburgs were, in fact, married. There were very few strong relationships in wrestling (real or kayfabe) during the tumultuous 90s, and in fact DDP and Kim’s marriage would unfortunately not survive as they divorced in 2005, but it’s clear that their time as a top couple in WCW proved that wrestling can recreate great chemistry given the right man and woman.
8 Triple H and Chyna
Fans who are new to WWE would have to be told the whole story in great detail to understand how wrestling history would have changed if Triple H had decided to marry his original WWE sweetheart. In the meantime, Triple H and Chyna will always have the Attitude Era. Where Matt and Lita were the rulers of the era’s high flyers, Hunter and Chyna were DX’s dominating powerhouses. Fans were amazed when the online gossip in those days got about that Hunter and Chyna really were a couple, and the rumors were confirmed in an episode of MTV’s True Life where the two superstars were featured and publicly announced as an item. Maybe it was somewhere around Chyna’s Royal Rumble win and her eventual kayfabe turn against Hunter when things changed for the worse and Stephanie McMahon became Triple H’s prospective bride. However their story ended, Triple H and Chyna dominated the landscape of the Attitude Era during its peak.
7 Shawn Michaels and Sunny
This brief but sordid affair has been swept under the rug by seemingly everyone except Sunny herself, and if it weren’t for candid photos of the two former lovers spotted in public, the WWE likely wouldn’t have had anyone know about HBK’s “Sunny Days.” However, the mid-90s rendezvous that lasted merely over half a year was a testament to the popularity of both Shawn Michaels and Tammy Sytch. At the time of their short relationship, the two were at the peak of the company and reaching for brass rings outside of wrestling, HBK being the sexy Playgirl cover boy and Sunny being the most downloaded celebrity on AOL. Around the spring of 1996 it was almost impossible to watch WWE programming without hearing or seeing Shawn Michaels or Sunny – the duo dominated the return of the Slammy Awards that year. The relationship was likely one of the last bright spots of Sunny’s fairly short WWE run, as after their eventual breakup, she reunited with Chris Candido and was eventually released from the company mainly because of the creative decision to push the more popular Sable.
6 Brock Lesnar and Sable
The Mayor and First Lady of Suplex City can write their own tickets to anywhere they want now. Many fans have predicted that Sable (better known as Rena Lesnar, nee Mero) will be the next female inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame thanks to her close ties with the former WWE Champion, and it’s a pretty safe bet that she’ll eventually have an HOF ring to show off along with her wedding ring. It’s also likely that the bad blood that existed between Sable and WWE with her first departure from the company in 1999 was cleared up after her subsequent reappearance and 2004 exit from the WWE thanks in part to her relationship with Brock Lesnar. Now that Brock has agreed to work more with WWE in the future as a major player, a possibility exists fans may even see an onscreen role for Sable once again, surely reappearing as one of the company's top women and maybe even in a reprisal of her notable feud against Stephanie McMahon.
5 John Cena and Nikki Bella
Another WWE departure that was softened by the bloom of romance is that of Nikki Bella, whose career was rekindled after a spark of romance. Nikki and Cena began dating in 2012, around the same time the Bella Twins left the company for a brief period of time. Upon the re-debut of the Bellas in 2013, Nikki’s character was completely redefined in every way. The doors of the entertainment world that were once closed to the Bella Twins when they’d initially left WWE were finally opening, and with the premiere of WWE’s Total Divas, Nikki had arrived and she brought her man along with her. Considered the stars of the program, Nikki and John are at the top of their games in WWE at the moment, leaving their fans wondering what will happen next for the couple and if the cameras will be there to film it.
4 CM Punk and AJ Lee
It’s been said that having the ultimate power is knowing when to walk away, and if such is the case then Punk and his bride definitely have more power than any other couple in wrestling. What makes this pairing so unique and so tough is their willingness to fight against what they and others see as WWE’s unfair business practices. Punk and AJ have become symbols of “The Right Thing to Do” for so many people that it’s almost impossible to separate the two from wrestling, although they’ve clearly separated themselves and become wealthy, free individuals who can speak out against the WWE’s actions as they see fit. To a lot of fans, that’s the best kind of power a wrestling couple can have.
3 Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth
As hard as it is to picture coy, smiling Miss Elizabeth as a powerhouse of pro wrestling, she and her late former husband Randy “Macho Man” Savage indeed fit the mold of a power couple. In fact, Elizabeth’s kayfabe role in Savage’s career was noticeably that of a manager and not the usual valet role taken by women relegated to ringside. In their earlier establishing days, Elizabeth was seen in scripted video segments tending to Savage’s day-to-day business by telephone as he lounged by the pool and chatted with Mean Gene Okerlund. Such an action by a woman was groundbreaking in wrestling at the time, as men were usually referred to as managers and handled the wrestler’s out-of-ring operations. This put Elizabeth on the same level as such legends as Slick and Jimmy Hart, and although Savage’s character would never admit that the lovely Miss Elizabeth had made any remarkable progress as noteworthy as his, the Macho Man should have been proud to have such a trailblazer as Elizabeth riding on his shoulder.
2 Vince and Linda McMahon
For decades, the McMahons have worked to establish their name a part of the old-moneyed Connecticut list of names, and it’s worked out fairly well for them. Despite what some may think or say of them, no one can deny that Vince and Linda McMahon have been successful at turning a wrestling promotion into an entertainment corporation. Their ventures into other worlds have not been as successful – attempts at entering the political venue have been in vain and everyone remembers the tragicomic failure of the XFL – but the setbacks have never stopped Vince and Linda from being the indomitable business team they’ve become.
1 Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
If there’s anyone who’s been studying the hardest from the Vince and Linda McMahon notebook on how to be a power couple, then that individual would surely have to Stephanie McMahon. Ever since her real-life wedding (after a few hilariously memorable kayfabe weddings) to Paul Levesque in 2003, Stephanie’s marriage has been a near-perfect blend of business and family life. What makes this couple so powerful, other than their scripted “Horrible Bosses” style of domination, is that they really make their hectic lives seem effortless. Parents of three children, Triple H and Stephanie oversee the day-to-day RAW, SmackDown, and NXT operations that run at a neck-break pace and yet the couple still finds off-the-clock time to unwind with the kids. Looking at The Authority from this perspective allows a better view of how powerful Triple H and Stephanie really are.
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